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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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 New airport, harbour key to future prosperity

Dr. Sena Yaddehige

Building additional international airports and harbours is a step taken in the right direction as the country needs them in the future. This was a right investment made at the appropriate time by the government, said Chairman Arpico, Dr. Sena Yaddehige.

Speaking to Daily News Business ‘Top Vision’, he said that both Hambantota harbour and the Mattala airport would play a key role in the country’s future economy and more such government funded investments are needed. Sri Lankans can be also proud of the Southern Highway and also the massive road development that is taking place today all over Sri Lanka including the North East.

“Did you ever dream that Sri Lanka could have a highway of this nature?” he asked.

Quick road connectivity between cities would also help investors to move out of Colombo thus helping to minimize regional disparity.

However he said that the high interest regime is a concern for the investors. “If we were to borrow overseas we can get credit for around 3 to 4%.

However in Sri Lanka this is sometimes over 11% which is very high. Unfortunately even well establish companies like ours cannot borrow from banks operating outside Sri Lanka due to collateral.

He also identified high plantation wages as another grey area in the country. “This is definitely reflected in our balance sheet as all sectors of the company performed up to expectations excluding the plantation sector where high wages are still an issue.

These have been staidly increasing by around 60 percent over the last two years and this is a growing concern,” he said.

Dr. Yaddehige was conferred with Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in consideration of his original research work in the fields of Radiation, Radiation processing,

Electromechanical Sensor technology, non contact sensor technology and automotive pedal systems along with numerous patents in the above fields.

Following are some of the excerpts of the interview:

Q: How do you see the future of the plantation industry?

A: In addition to high wages the growing competition from Kenya and some other countries too is a major concern for the industry. Kenya too is making a shift from supplying bulk tea and moving to value addition business.

Arpico is in the process of exporting 10 tons of Tea to Japan building on a new relationship.

We are in the process of increasing our product range and the company is looking for a 250,000 square feet warehouse in Colombo mainly looking at the tea sector.

Q: What are the plans of the company?

A: Our retail sector has been performing very well and Arpico is planning an aggressive expansion drive with plans to move into the North east in a big way.

The home made product range too would increase this year. We are planning to invest Rs. three billion in the next two years for expansions in the retail sector.

In addition Education, health care and leisure and BPO sector would be key areas where our future focus would be. Leasing industry too would be added to our portfolio soon. Investments into solar energy too would be one the cards and we are in the process of hiring resource people for this operation.

I’m confident that, as the company will not only strive to retain its heritage as a much valued provider of goods and services to the Sri Lankan family and businesses and a preferred employer, but will continue to move from good to great, bringing in contentment to all those who are connected with the company.

Q: Being an inventor and a scientist you have several patents. Is it difficult to maintain them?

A: Yes definitely. One gets a patent for a specific period of time and if you want to keep it you have to pay which is not financially viable.

I am currently in the process of putting together a fertiliser that would minimise environmental impacts and bring in higher efficiency. When fertiliser is used on slopes especially in tea plantations it gets washed away for rain and when it gets to the streams this upsets the ecological circle.

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